I wrote about the P2P currency exchange website Moneytwins.com yesterday, expressing mixed feelings. I definitely like the idea of a peer-based money exchange system. The site itself doesn't seem to be too professional tho, and the fact that they didn't reply to my email didn't really help either.

Moneytwins.com director Sieva Yourievitch took some time to reply to my questions after the review was published however. These answers didn't completely change my mind, but I think they show that they are open to dialogue and criticism, which is an important first step. I also understand that your first shot isn't always perfect - heck, just look at the out of the box standard design template of this website. But I still think anything that resembles a financial institution should have some minimum safeguards, like a privacy policy and a terms of use agreement.

Okay, enough said. Here's the complete email interview with Sieva Yourievitch of Moneytwins.com:

When did Money Twins start?

Moneytwins.com has taken quite a while to be conceived but is aligned with all the websites that want to go around banking fees (Zopa, Prosper). Basically for people in the UK it costs around 8-5% to exchange money in cash, so my company always wanted to find a way for people who would trust each other to get in touch and exchange currencies directly. I was working in a large company where people would go across the Atlantic all the time, or fly to Asia, and need foreign currencies all the time. To facilitate that, we had a internal blackboard where people would put up their needs and trade at mid market ... a nice saving.

The website aims at doing it on a large scale. The website has been online for just over a week and is still under developement. A dedicated team is working on it trying to make it look as good as possible and error free. Still this is NOT the final version but what I would call a road-test for the final version. As you noticed there are a few things missing for now but they will all be there in the final version. It's all under way so please bear with us. Still despite not being the final version, we already have registered users.

How many transactions did you help to assist already?

Money twins has arranged a few transactions already, but before that the same system has been used on a intranet basis and arranged hundreds of exchanges per year just within ONE large company.

How do your users usually exchange money - in person, per mail?

It depends on who the counterparty would be. There are many shop owners in touristic regions of England who accept foreign currencies as payment and they might want to change them back into their local currency (GBP) using our system. In that case the person buying the foreign currency would just come to the shop. It implies locality.

Other than that, people can meet in person, use special delivery by DHL, replicate any secure way of delivering used on e-bay. We also plan to have a London hub in order to desynchronize both parts of the exchange. That means that after trading on the website the buyer could come to the hub and be given the required currencies and then the seller would bring his currencies. That takes away all security risks.

We have also a whole remittance module coming that would allow people who want to send money abroad to a relative to find someone in that country who wants to send money the other way around. This way no money needs to cross any border, it is just exchanged in country A and B between the four users involved.

Are there any fees connected to the site membership, individual trades etc.?

At the moment the are no fees related to the use of the service because we want people to like the idea and try it for free. In the middle run there will be ebay-like listing fees. About 0.5% of the transaction probably. Still a large difference compared to the bureau de change rate.

What is the business model behind your website?

There can be two business models:

1- Stick google ads here and there, but I don't think the traffic will be so huge, it's just that each visit is valuable, the person comes with a definite goal in mind

2- Charge 0.5% of each transaction. That allows to leverage on the quality of the visitors.

Number 2 is the current favorite, but as I said the service is free for the moment for people to get used to it.